CSC Lockdown Blog

Fame!

Famous names and famous games! That is what is in store for you in Worksheet 30.

You will discover an extraordinary Short king journey and, to coin a phrase, a Golden Move.

In fact Worksheet 30 concludes the current series in great style. Incidentally, the Lockdown Blog is taking a similar break. Perhaps we shall return with a new series if the world has not returned to normal in 2021.

You have been on an incredible chess journey since the start of the lockdown.

It is worth keeping in mind that every Grandmaster we have featured in the worksheets started just like YOU. They all had to master the basic moves of the pieces, the elementary tactics, the best opening moves and the checkmate patterns.

If you keep playing regularly you will learn so much more about chess as time goes by. Your skills will increase, your knowledge will deepen and your understanding of chess will constantly develop.

Use setbacks and defeats as springboards for future success. Every single chess player as to lose games in order to learn and improve. That goes for you, me and even the World Champion, Magnus Carlsen.

One day YOUR games could be featured in our chess worksheets.

Of course, you will have to accept that as you continue to beat everyone in your household you may not be as popular as before, when you were undoubtedly the novice of the chess world.

Your new skills may even inspire everyone around you to put in more effort just to try and beat you again.

This is all perfectly natural and becoming a ‘marked person’ is only to be expected when you are the best player around.

I shall leave you with the famous words of  Julius Caesar, who said:

‘Infamy; infamy! They’ve all got it in-for-me!’

Sean Marsh

16 September 2020


CSC Lockdown Blog
The World Champions

Champion!

Just imagine hearing that word.

At the beginning of Lockdown you were only just learning the basics of chess, starting off with our first worksheet.

Now you have learned about all of the pieces, how to checkmate an opponent’s king, the best opening moves to play, various tactics to use throughout the game, how to finish off your opponent in the endgame and several other things besides.

You must now be at the stage where you can match your children. There may even be family tournaments going on in your homes - and you could become the champion!

That reminds me; out of all the places I have visited, the city with the best chess players must be Newcastle. Whenever I ask chess players up there how their tournament is going they just say ‘Champion!’

Curiously, we have yet to see a World Champion hail from Newcastle. In fact we have never had one from the whole of the UK either.

Or…have we? Well, if you turn your attention to Worksheet 29 you will find a British person did indeed become champion of the world - and kept the title for 17 years!

Yes, to tie in with the return to school our new worksheet is actually a history lesson. Of course, there is a lot more history to learn now, than when I was at school.

The historians at CSC HQ have come up with the names of three World Champions who they think deserve to be featured in the penultimate worksheet of the series.

Do you agree with all three choices? Head for Worksheet 29 to find out!

Sean Marsh

8 September 2020


Never-Ending Story 

2020 is turning into a never-ending story - or a broken record. Lockdowns, face masks and queues with large gaps between the people. There seems to be no end in sight.

The world of the arts continues to suffer. We recently heard the bad news that the theatre production of The Phantom of the Opera has closed its doors for the last time. How ironic; he was the only man in London prepared to wear a mask.

On a more positive note, 2020 is also an ongoing story of your own chess development - and, as chess is undeniably an art form, we are claiming this as a great success.

Just look how much you have learned since we started this special Chess at Home section on the website.



We are now up to Lesson 28 of our worksheets. This is a direct sequel to Lesson 27 and it is time to investigate the endgame in greater depth.

Does anyone know what zugzwang means? The answer is in the worksheet.

What about the special case of the rook’s pawn? Have a look at the worksheet.

Do you recall the effectiveness of The Opposition? Err…me neither.

 

We are not going to relax our efforts here at CSC. More worksheets will continue to appear and now that children are returning to their schools you will finally have a few quiet moments to study our lessons properly.

 

Just sit back, relax, and read…but be quick! The children will be home again before you know it!


Have We Reached the Endgame?

‘It’s the end …but the moment has been prepared for.’

Famous last words, uttered, as I am sure you are all aware, by the Fourth Doctor just before he regenerated after seven long years at the helm of the TARDIS.

Time, as always, plays tricks. That particular period of childhood came to an end in 1981, but it still seems like a recent event to me.

 Time is playing tricks again and, this time, a lot more has changed than the face of a Timelord.

How long have we been away from our schools? It has been more than five months now. The end is now apparently in sight, with our schools set to return to action next week.


The full story is more complicated than a trip to Logopolis but the basic plan is to return to delivering chess lessons as soon as we possibly can.
 

It is timely indeed that CSC Worksheet 27 in our ongoing and wonderful series focuses on the Endgame.

We have already enjoyed CSC lessons on the Opening and the Middlegame, which have helped chess players of all standards to gain the advantage in their games. Of course, obtaining an advantage in anything isn’t any good at all unless we know how to turn into a chess victory.

 In this new lesson you will learn all about how to win when you only have a king and just one pawn against your opponent’s king. Yes! The tiny pawns you normally leave around to be captured by your opponents can actually turn out to be all you need to win a game of chess - so look after them!

The plan for winning in the endgame usually involves pawn promotion. We always have to explain the concept slowly and carefully here on Teesside as ‘promotion’ is not a word we hear bandied about very much at all.

You will learn about such mysteries as the ‘Rule of the Square’ - which turns out not to be the obvious one of ‘he who looks most like a chess player must be the best player in the club’ but is instead a simple method of calculating whether or not your pawn will beat the opponent’s king in a race to the end of the board.

You will also discover the art of ‘Shepherding the Pawn.’ Keeping in mind the well-known phrase, ‘too many crooks spoil the broth,’ you may like to keep these winning techniques hidden from your children.

Have we really reached the Endgame? It is very tempting to hop into the TARDIS to see what is in store for us in the immediate future…but we’ll just have to wait and see.



Opening The Door to Success 

CSC Worksheet 26 is a sequel to the 25th episode, as it continues our valuable survey of chess openings.

Knowing a few good moves for the start of a game and understanding the ideas behind them can open the door to success.

That reminds me; something strange happened to the doors of CSC HQ in Baker Street earlier this week. Someone had painted the doors a pale shade of yellow for some strange reason.

CSC staff walked down the road to consult with another famous Baker Street resident; none other than Sherlock Holmes himself. The great detective solved the case almost immediately, claiming it was ‘lemon-entry.’

Worksheet 26 examines various openings starting with 1 d4 - the Queen’s Pawn Openings.


You will discover the mysterious Indian Defences and a powerful gambit designed to give you complete control of the centre of the board. There is also a famous game played between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky.

The names of Fischer and Spassky may mean little to the youth of today, but there is a good chance that grandparents will find the names ringing distant bells. Their famous World Championship match of 1972 was on the TV news all those years ago. See how much the grandparents can remember!

Last week’s Jumbo Wordsearch proved so popular that there is another one this week for you to solve. Get your children to help you - or print off two copies and race them to finish first.

After all, with your new chess openings turning you into an even stronger player, the juniors need something left to try and beat you with.

Despite the Jumbo title, you will not find the Elephant Gambit there on this occasion, but you will discover exotic new names such as the Bogo-Indian, the Torre Attack and the Veresov. If there is too much to do in one go, save the Queen’s Gambit Declined until Valentine’s Day. That’s we do around here.

Have fun, dear readers!


Chess Openings

Here we are, 25 lessons into our series focusing on chess at home, and we are now going back … to the very start.

No! Come back! We are not suddenly doubting your ability to move all six chess pieces correctly and we are sure you now know the differences between check, checkmate and stalemate.

As for the en passant rule … well, we’ll give you some more time with that one.

You know how finish off your opponents with deadly checkmates - but do you know the best way to start a game of chess?

Just how good is your knowledge of the openings?

If you play weakly during the opening moves you will simply end up in a bad position and none of your other skills will ever be able to be used.

Worksheet 25 presents essential information about some of the best chess openings you can possibly play.



See if your favourite opening matches the one given on this week’s worksheet!

As you already know, we certainly don’t do things by halves here at CSC (except when it comes to settling my invoices).

So this week there is a bonus page for you on the worksheet - and it is a Jumbo Wordsearch!

See if you can find a Hippopotamus lurking somewhere between an Elephant and St. George. Well, after 458 weeks of lockdown it is understandable that one’s mind will start to play tricks…

Study well! I am sure you will find these openings simply a-door-able.


The Draw

We have provided enough information, instruction and entertainment over the course of our first 23 CSC Worksheets to give you all a fighting chance of beating your children at chess, even if it is just now and then.

After all, it wouldn’t be a good idea to upset them too much, especially as we all have to try to get along during the lockdown (have you tried asking your children to tidy their rooms recently? Top Tip: Don’t…!).

Anyway, winning chess games is all very well, but it can be very difficult against some opponents.

Leonardo da Vinci, Johnny Ringo and Pablo Picasso were all notoriously difficult to beat at chess. Why? Because they all knew how to draw.

Yes, a third result in chess is always possible! One doesn’t always have to swing between the two extremes of euphoria and desolation as a result of a victory or a defeat respectively.

This all brings us very neatly to Worksheet 24, which explains the various ways in which a game of chess can end peacefully.

You will discover news terms such as the ‘50 Move Rule’ and ‘Insufficient Material’ (which, by strange coincidence, is what my tailor said when I tried to order some new post-lockdown clothes. What was he trying to say?).

You will also learn the name for a referee in chess.

Perhaps most remarkable of all, you will be able to read about a match for the World Chess Championship, in which every game ended as a draw!

What are you waiting for? It is time to head straight to Worksheet 24 for a very interesting and absorbing chess lesson.

It will really draw you in!

4 August 2020


Rook and Roll

We are suddenly into the second week of the Summer holiday. Have you been anywhere nice? Oh well, perhaps not.

Never mind; the lockdown is good for your chess, if you don’t just chuck the time away and you actually use it to practice instead.

This week’s magnificent worksheet will definitely come in useful when you have the advantage of a rook to help your king in the battle to checkmate the opponent’s lone king. It is not so easy without a queen so it is a very important lesson.

Don’t forget - practice makes perfect! The technique described in the worksheet is essential knowledge but you need to dig in deep and get to grips with the checkmating procedure.

Why not set up a position with a king and rook against the king and practice with a buddy? Take turns to see who can force a checkmate from wherever you place the pieces at the start of the exercise.

Keep trying it out until you can reduce the number of moves before forcing checkmate. How low can you go?

There will definitely be many times when your game comes down to needing knowledge of the checkmate in question and if you master it at home you will be able to cash in on your experience when the time comes.

You need to absorb the secrets of the ‘waiting move’ and the mysterious art of ‘closing the box.’

Head for Worksheet 23 right now - no petty excuses allowed!

Imagine the satisfaction you will experience when you deliver a checkmate with nothing but a rook and a king, leaving your unsuspecting opponent to exclaim, ‘You really got me!’

Yes folks - it’s time to rook and roll!


Mind Your Language

Last week’s CSC lesson highlighted the art of using notation. This week we have reached Lesson 22 and we are moving on from the act of writing down a game to extending our vocabulary.

There are some interesting words in the world of chess which are not generally encountered elsewhere.

 Conversely, some have been taken from chess and added to other subjects, such as ‘stalemate’ (typically used in connection with trench warfare grinding to a halt during The Great War), ‘endgame’ (for when an event or conflict is about to end), ‘Gambit’ (a character in The New Avengers - go on, ask your Dad) and ‘checkmate’ (when I ask my students how they would like to pay. Oh well, it keeps HMRC happy).

 Yes, language is very important. I remember when we had an exchange student from Germany at our Secondary School. (We’d swapped him for a boy in our class we didn’t particularly like.)

 As I was in charge of the chess team I thought I would start with an easy question to find out if he knew anything about the great game.

I asked him, ‘Do you know how many pawns each side starts with in a game of chess?’

Nein!’ he replied, and to this day I don’t know whether he was a chess novice or just very bad at maths.

Frankly speaking, the most controversial moment in a game of chess also has an unusual name. It is called the en passant rule. Nothing is likely to cause more of an argument in a game featuring juniors than someone trying out the en passant capture.

Parents! This is where we need you! Your older and wiser heads will definitely be required to make sense of this most curious of rules.

The full explanation can be found in Lesson 22 but we all know of some juniors who make up their own versions of the en passant capture. To the letter of the law, it is only pawns that can perpetrate this most dastardly of all captures. Yet in the average tournament hall, children will be using all sorts of pieces to wipe out all manner of other pieces with a mighty flourish - and, when challenged, they will all claim, ‘It’s the en passant rule!’

There is plenty more excellent material in Lesson 22, but I don’t want to go into too much detail here about things such as isolated pawns. It seems that the related word, isolation, is another that has slipped from the chessboard to become part of our standard vocabulary.

One final point about language. It used to be the case that French words, such as serviette, were considered impolite at the dining table. This was due to the ongoing tensions of the Napoleonic Wars. ‘Napkin’ was the preferred option.

Consequently, it may be worthwhile issuing forth an acknowledgement when uncorking an en passant capture against your hapless opponent. Try, ‘A thousand apologies!’ to placate the poor victim. After all, you can afford to be gracious. Your chess skill and your vocabulary have both improved at the same time.

Win/win? Oui, oui!


Chess Notation 

I remember my old school teacher telling me two very important things:

1) Write everything down, so you don’t forget anything important.

2) Err…can’t remember; I forgot to write that one down.

Well it’s all about attention span, isn’t it? And if I’d paid more attention during my RE lessons I would have understood why it was so important that Moses was told to ‘keep taking the tablets.’

The written word! That is what we are preaching the importance of today. Write it down and preserve it forever!

Just imagine you have played a really good game of chess. Perhaps you have finally beaten one of your children after spending 115 days (or is it years?) of the lockdown trying to do so.


Wouldn’t it be good if you had a copy of the game, so you could show your friends? Or - more effectively - show your child’s friends. They will like that.

Well, help is at hand. Using our brand new CSC worksheet - Lesson 21, no less - you will be able to learn a new language.

Unfortunately, it is not the language you need to understand your teenagers. Sorry; we can’t help you there. We can, however, teach you the secret of chess notation.

It doesn’t take long to learn how to use chess notation, which will enable you to keep a full record of all of your games. If you lose, you can look at the game and work out where you went wrong, so you won’t make the same mistakes again. If you win, you will have a permanent record of the achievement.

We have games going back many hundreds of years, which chess fans like to play through in order to learn the secrets of the great masters (well, we might as well…most other forms of entertainment are out of the question at the moment.)

Nor are the recorded games just from Grandmasters. We can even play through the moves of games played by famous people, including none other than Napoleon, to find out whether or not the opposition was blown-apart.

So if you have ever wondered why chess players use ’N’ for knight, what the difference is between ‘0-0’ and ‘0-0-0’ and where Paul Morphy played his most famous game of chess then you simply must head for Lesson 21.

You will soon begin to see you have made the write move.


Queen Sacrifices!

We have now sailed straight through the (first!?) 100 days of the lockdown. It all seems to have passed by in the blink of an eye (but only if you are an extremely slow blinker).

In anticipation of the increased amount of lockdown dullness in all our lives, the CSC Lessons have become more startling in recent weeks.

Following on from the inferences of Hammer Horror to be found in the world of pins, skewers and discovered attacks we have now reached the lesson which will give you something to really sink your teeth into, as we unveil the world of the infamous Queen Sacrifices!


One would be forgiven for thinking we have travelled back in time* to the days of King Henry VIII, a man who was notoriously good at chess, partly because he had no fewer than six queens. The story of Henry’s own queen sacrifices is well known and has given many an actor the opportunity to Tudor scenery on the silver screen.

Our lesson is equally dramatic!

Shock upon shock!

Terror upon terror! 

Checkmate upon checkmate!

Watch how a game can be won by voluntarily giving up the strongest piece on the chessboard - all for the greater good!

Imagine you are playing your children and they see the opportunity to capture your queen. They will think you are still terrible at chess, but - no! It was all part of your special plan to unleash a devastating checkmate on their poor, unsuspecting king. 

It can be complicated; it doesn’t always lead to checkmate on the next move.

If you study the worksheet you will be able to take part in an exciting king hunt, from which there is no escape.

Don’t miss the Grandmaster Test, in which a poor king has been chased all the way to the end of the board! Can you find the way to finish him off?

Unleash your creativity and add queen sacrifices to your growing armoury of chess skills. Head for Lesson 20 right now!


*PS: Anyone interested in a discussion on the subject of time travel may like to come to last Tuesday’s seminar. For further details, please write your name and address on the back of a £50 note and send it to me at the usual address.


King and Queen Checkmate

Attentive readers of this lockdown blog may recall I was tempted by a cookie in the previous installment. Unfortunately, I had to turn to down. Why? Because it was stale, mate.

That reminds me! The latest CSC chess lessons are now available for your perusal and we suddenly find ourselves up to Lesson 19. This week the lesson is all about King and Queen Checkmates and it will help you finish off your opponents when they are down to their lone king and you have nothing but your own king and queen left on the board.

Our new worksheet  will help you understand how to use your own king properly in order to force the opponent’s king to the side of the board - where you can deliver checkmate and win the game.

 It is not so easy to force the checkmate at first; it requires technique and understanding.

In the words of the old joke (and Sparks song):

Q: 'How do I get to Carnegie Hall?’


A: ‘Practice, man; practice!’

 Yes, as our worksheet makes clear, you will definitely need to practice the technique of checkmating the opponent’s king with your own king and queen. It is a good feeling when you know for sure you will be able to force a victory with just those pieces.

 Watch out for the danger! Just as with the cookie, the problem of stalemate is never far away. You wouldn’t want to let your opponent escape with a draw, would you?

 Remember that your king has to put in a lot more work than he would normally have to do. Usually he has to hide away from the enemy forces, but when there is no possible he can even be checked - never mind checkmated - he is free to roam the board in search of his rival.

 Our worksheet also shows the art of ‘Closing the Box’ and that is exactly what I am going to do now. I will only be let out again when the people upstairs need me to write the next post for this lockdown blog.

By then, I expect you will have mastered king and queen checkmate and will more than ready to see what delights are in store for Lesson 20.

Have fun, everyone!


Decoy and Destroy

Well! These lockdown weeks are certainly flying by.  

It doesn’t seem like five minutes since I was looking forward to getting stuck into some Easter Eggs.

Not that eating has been off the agenda for the last few months, of course. Or if it has, my clothes have all mysteriously shrunk.

Earlier this week I even tried to sign up for an online diet plan, but the first thing it did was ask me if I would accept cookies, so it didn’t seem worth it.

Fortunately, not all online resources are as unhelpful.

We are delighted to unveil the latest lesson in our special Chess at Home series. Believe it or not, we are now up to Lesson 18 and the subject this week is Decoy and Destroy.

With names like those, you would be forgiven for thinking you have tuned into the news page by mistake. Rest assured, these are merely two new chess tactics for you to use in your games - and very powerful ones they are too.

To destroy something is fairly self-explanatory. Imagine your opponent has a piece defending a key square, possibly even preventing a checkmate. If you can simply capture the defending piece it won’t even matter what you have to give up in return, The only important thing is that the defender will be forcibly removed from the board and you will be free to carry out your deadly plan.

A decoy is a related tactic. Imagine if you could either tempt or force a defending piece away, perhaps with a tempting piece of bait. The opponent greedily bites - the defending piece has gone - and your checkmate plan will work!

The worksheet shows the conclusion to one of the most famous games in the whole history of chess. To show how long ago it was, the game was played while the participants were watching an opera.

Playing chess away from a computer screen - fancy that!

Meanwhile, you will definitely be on song if you absorb the latest lesson and start using the two new tactics in your own games. And now that the lockdown restrictions are being eased you will even be able to play to a second house.

Now, where did I put those Bourbon biscuits…?

 


Discovered Attacks

 

Good news, everyone! Lesson 17 is now available for your enjoyment and the subject is Discovered Attacks.

Ah, that takes me back to all those years ago in Secondary School (don’t worry; it was 40 years before lockdown)…

Of course, in those days a 'discovered attack’ was nothing to do with chess. It was merely the act of a teacher finding out what the school bully had been up to during playtime.

Well, it was a tough school. I remember one RE lesson in which the teacher asked, ‘Does anyone know who knocked down the walls of Jericho?’ and total silence followed. Nobody liked to be a grass at our school.

Naturally, we saved all the serious stuff for the lunchtime chess club. That is where we managed to gain the upper hand against the less - how can I put this - cerebral children (I have to be careful; ‘Crusher’ Cole might be reading this), with our ever-expanding knowledge of chess tactics.

Moving one piece to uncover an attack by a second piece seemed a remarkably advanced concept in those days. Mind you, so did fridges and colour TVs.

To be able to unleash - with a flamboyant flourish - a killer discovered attack to win an opponent’s queen was quite possibly as enjoyable as life ever got at lunchtime in Secondary School.

Thinking back, I probably wouldn’t have been too pleased about CSC worksheets and Kahoot! quizzes appearing every week, as regular as a school bell. In those days, fancy tactics such as discovered attacks were my secret weapons and I wouldn’t have wanted my opponents to have the same knowledge.

This is where you have the advantage! Instead of being sent to the Naughty Corner I can happily send you to the worksheet Puzzle Corner instead.

Can you master the art of the discovered attack? Will you be able to unveil your new-found tactical skill against your children in a game before the next chess lesson arrives?

Only YOU can make it happen. Set up the chess board, call your children to you and play.

And don’t forget - if you are still unsure about how this new tactic works you can always head back to the lesson and double check the idea.

 


Using Pins

The latest chess lesson from CSC is number 16 and it is all about using pins.

Look - I know what you are thinking. One week we appear to have stepped away from the chessboard and into the kitchen to investigate forks - and now we appear to have wandered into a haberdashery to learn how to use pins.

Naturally, to people of a certain age, the very thought of it will summon up an image of the famous Grace Brothers department store. That would, however, be missing the point.

In fact all you need to do is cast your mind back to Lesson 15 to be reminded that the pin is actually one of most popular chess tactics.

Just imagine you have a bishop and it is attacking your opponent’s knight. Just behind the knight, on the same diagonal, is the opponent’s queen. They could still move the knight but that would - in the words of Chuck Berry - be a case of, ‘Go, go, go, little queenie.’

Sensible players, or at least those who may have absorbed the relevant knowledge from aforementioned Lesson 15, will already know it is highly undesirable to voluntarily move a pinned piece. The real fun starts when we can bring in another one of our pieces to attack the pinned piece. Oh, the dilemma! The attacked piece wants to move, but how can it leave its teammate to its grisly fate?


The whole point is to use this new tactical idea in order to put your opponents under pressure. They are then much more likely to make mistakes and you will have more chance of winning.

Here’s a secret. Juniors are actually very good at pinning pieces but not so good at using the pins. This, dear chess parents, is where you will have the advantage.

Head straight to Lesson 16 and add to your tactical knowledge!

Right, that’s the chess done for the day. Miss Brahms, are you free…?


Pins and Skewers


Last week we wrote about forks and their use on the chess board.

This time we have two more examples of chess tactics with strange names for you: the pin and the skewer.

The lesson on the fork showed how to use one of our pieces to attack two or more of the opponent’s pieces.

Most of you will now be familiar with the power of the fork and will hopefully have been able to use at least one in your games since last week. This week we hope the lessons will provide more than enough information to prevent you being stuck on the pin.

Pins and skewers are similar to each other in that they attack two pieces on the same line. Head for Lesson 15 to discover exactly how that can be done and find out the key difference between the two tactics.


Unlike the fork, which can be done with all six chess pieces, pins and skewers can only be done by half of the chess pieces. But which ones? Oh, there is a challenge for you, dear readers!

Naturally, talk of skewers will bring the subject of barbecues to mind. Now that six people are officially allowed to meet for public gatherings the only thing I am missing to make the plan work is … another five other people.

Meanwhile, here is a word of caution.

I remember, at the end of one particular tournament, someone wanted to assess my tactical skill.

They asked, ‘How many forks did you manage to do in your games?’

‘Five,’ I replied.

‘Very good. How many skewers?’

‘Six.’
 

‘Excellent. Now, how many pins?’

Of course, I refused to answer. Everyone knows PIN numbers should always be kept secret.

Meanwhile, if you study our new lesson and become familiar with pins and skewers then you will have three mighty tactics which will definitely help you win more chess games.

Stay tuned, as there are still plenty more chess tactics to come!


The Fork


Here we are in week 10 of the lockdown and I doubt many people have even noticed it is actually the half-term break.

It is proving to be a strange week of Cummings and (not quite) goings but you must not relax those efforts in your quest to beat your children at chess.

Our chess lesson this week may have you running to the kitchen to make sure you are getting the point. Yes, it is time to get serious about your chess tactics - and this week our twin-pronged lesson utilises the worksheet and Kahoot quiz to focus on the fork.



In fact I have it on good authority that since the enforced closure of the fast food establishments the humble fork has been making an unexpected comeback. Indeed, the last time we saw so many forks was way back in November but anyone with a burning ambition to find out more on the subject will be pleased to know they are now springing up all the tine.

What exactly is a fork in chess? Very simply, it is when one piece attacks two or more of the opponent’s pieces at the same time. The action is just like sticking the prongs of a fork into different items of food.

Imagine you could attack an opponent’s king and queen at the same time. They could only save one piece - it would have to be the king - and then you would win your opponent’s queen! Imagine the power that would give you on the chessboard. A free queen - and all you had to do was remember a simple chess tactic!

Your children will be surprised, impressed and disappointed all at the same time when you unleash a fabulous fork against them over the chess board.

Even better; if you study the worksheet you will even be able to drop in the names of some famous chess champions.

 

‘Oh yes,’ you will say as you move in for the kill with your deadly tactic. ‘I first saw this trick in one of Petrosian’s games in the 1966 World Chess Championship. It was against Boris Spassky, if I recall correctly.’

Careful study of Lesson 14 will enable you to spring unexpected attacks on kings, queens, cast- err, I mean rooks, bishops, knights and pawns. No pieces are safe from forks and, as the worksheet rightly says, ‘Tactics are the building blocks to better chess.’

Build up your chess NOW!


Attack and Defence

Last week we discussed the art of Scholar’s Mate and the Kiss of Death. I have subsequently been offered good money to reveal the name of the person who put me off mistletoe for life but my lips remain sealed.

This week, the chess lesson worksheets and Kahoot! quizzes turn their attention to the art of defence.



When we start playing chess any attack seems to come crashing through. Two pieces line up together and before we know it our king is in checkmate. Is chess a forced win for White?

No!

It is time to add a little sophistication to your game; time to rise up against the scourge of the four-move checkmate; time to take control of the chessboard in YOUR home.

This is no trivial matter, as Confucius, he say: ‘Whoever controls the chessboard, controls the TV remote control also.’

I remember the time when a member of my first chess club started to study the art of defence. Suddenly, our attacks were found wanting. Wanting stronger moves, usually. We gradually stopped attacking with our queens so early in the game. It all became too much of a gamble, with the odds stacked too heavily against our early attacks.

Fast-forward a few decades and I am pleased to say I have never returned to such gambling ways, despite extreme provocation. ‘Who do you fancy in the Grand National?’ asked one Head Office wag. ‘None of them; they’re all horses,’ I steadfastly replied. The wag then tried to get me place a bet on the horse with the most chess-related name, but I was too embarrassed to go into the betting shop and say ‘Hoof-hearted’ out loud.

Come on, chess parents! It is time to replace the gamble with cold calculation. Our new lesson will teach you how to count the attackers and defenders, to help you work out whether the attack is stronger than the defence. You will also learn about which World Champion liked to attack and which one preferred to defend. Yes, both roads to success are possible!

Which approach matches your own style? Are you a determined attacker or a cool defender?

Don’t just sit there - head for Lesson 13 to find out!


The Kiss of Death

 

Last week our chess lessons introduced you to ranks, files and the famous lawnmower checkmate, thus giving you plenty of opportunities to impress your children with your extraordinary - and hitherto unrevealed - grasp of chess words and phrases.

This week brings more tricks, traps and terminology - all of which you’ll soon have down to a “T”.

The Kiss of Death! The first time I heard that phrase was at the annual CSC Head Office party a few years ago. Now the merest mention of it makes me panic and hide the mistletoe.

Fortunately, you will need to do neither of those things but instead you will find out a particularly memorable way to checkmate your opponent’s king. It will be just like the aforementioned office party; once experienced, never forgotten.

Meanwhile, Lesson 12 will also show you how to win a game of chess against the unwary in just four moves. The method is known as Scholar’s Mate and it is something you definitely need to know.



Many years ago, when I was at school, someone won a game by using Scholar’s Mate in our chess club. Suddenly everyone was doing the same and we spent several months believing White could force a victory in just four moves no matter what Black did to try and stop it.

After all those months of lots of quick games but not much fun, one of the club members managed to stop Scholar’s Mate, purely by accident. The magical answer was written on a slate and we passed it around.

No longer would we lose in four moves as Black! Sometimes we even made it to move 10 without an early disaster.

The good news is that unlike the children at our chess club all those ago, you will not have to endure several months of unfulfilled promise and disappointment. Well, not until Love Island returns next year, anyway. No! Because Lesson 12 not only shows you how to play for a quick checkmate in four moves - it also shows you how to stop it!

Now you can amaze your children by beating them in four moves and when they try to do the same to you in the next game you will unveil your magnificent defence and they will not be able to secure a swift revenge.

Oh, chess parents…what are you waiting for? Head straight to Lesson 12 right now!


Chess for the Rank and File

Life during lockdown leaves very few excuses for not attempting to improve your chess skills.

As you know, we have been creating free chess resources designed to entice complete novices into the world of chess and everyone can easily master the very basics of the six chess pieces.

How many of you have been brave enough to challenge your children? Hmm…not many.

NOW is the time to start putting your new skills into action. Take a quick refresher course in each of the pieces using our first six lessons and you will be good to go with our mini-games.

We can’t all take our place amongst the finest chess generals ever seen. Most of us will always belong to the rank and file - and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being in such positions.

In fact knowledge of ranks and files will give you the advantage in chess. Here is a crash-course with everything you need to know.

Ranks and Files - Essential Knowledge

Ranks are the lines going across the board, horizontally.

Files are lines going up and down the board, vertically.

There are eight ranks and eight files.

If you have set up your chess board correctly (you need a white square in the bottom righthand corner) and it has coordinates around the sides, the files will have a letter at each end and the ranks will have numbers.

Chess juniors don’t really pay much attention to such information, as they are too busy learning how to checkmate their opponents as quickly as possible. This is good news for you, because you will be able to drop your new knowledge sparingly into your casual chess conversations. Your children will then look at you with new respect as they finally begin to understand that you have indeed been studying the great game of chess using our CSC resources. Or maybe they will just ignore you and ask what time the next meal will be happening.


Either way, make sure you don’t miss our brand new lessons which can be found in the Lesson 11 worksheets and Kahoot quizzes, for they contain plenty of tips on how to use your knowledge of ranks and files to pull out some wonderful checkmates, which may well come as big surprises to your children.

Yes! This time you will find out how to master the art of the famous back rank checkmate, often carried out by moving a rook down one of the files. You see? Everything is fitting together very nicely. We don’t just throw this stuff together, you know.

If you are very fortunate you may also learn the mysteries of the lawnmower checkmate. That reminds me - if the rest of your chores are taking a back seat due to the increasing amount time you have to spend on chess study then I have a helpful tip for you. Water your lawns with Whisky and they will come up half-cut.


Have fun playing your children and stay tuned to this blog for further tips!


Staying Safe

 

Well, well! Here we all are, still locked down. It is as if we have fallen down a rabbit hole into a strange new world. We have to stay sensible and safe until we can emerge again.

There is nothing we can do about it, but the wise people know this enforced time at home is an excellent opportunity to learn lots of new things and also to add to existing skills.

Now that our Chess at Home resources are moving into their third week, it is time to take stock of the situation.

Have you played your children at chess yet, or are you still absorbing the rich and varied content provided - free of charge - by Chess in Schools and Communities? Delaying the challenge to your chess champion children is a good way of staying safe, but the time is fast approaching when you will be able to unleash all of your new chess skills. You will soon be able to offer them the challenge of a lifetime - with bedtime at stake. Imagine the power, peace and quiet you could enjoy!

 

Last time we gave you one million reasons why chess is increasing its impact upon homes all across the country. Yes, at this very moment, one million free accounts for the ChessKid site are being distributed amongst our schools. Spare a thought for poor Mr Harding, who has been locked away for weeks inputting all of the new accounts. We had to give his typing fingers the day off yesterday (he had to input the accounts with his toes indeed).

 

Eagle-eyed readers may already have noticed that the ChessKid initiative - which, incidentally, made it into the newspapers and television news - was just one part of our chess revolution. Incidentally, there is still time for your school to sign up its free accounts.

Head to our special Chess at Home page and you will find 30 ways to help you with your chess.



We have worksheets, Kahoot! quizzes and YouTube videos. The three series of instructional material on offer combine very well to cover all of the basics of chess and are absolutely ideal for total chess novices.

Now is not the time to be intimidated by chess and the amount of material we are providing. As Lewis Carroll famously wrote in Alice in Wonderland:

‘Begin at the beginning,’ the King said, very gravely, ‘and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’

 

By that time we will have more lessons for you.

The first 10 lessons in each series will guide you all the way to starting your first games of chess - and the very special move of castling. After all, in every emergency it is very important to stay safe - especially if you are the chess King!



One in a Million

Is anybody out there still sticking to the art of home tutoring? Please keep your hands up, until I have finished counting.

Well, that didn’t take long!

You all need some new ideas and activities - and, fortunately, we are here to help.

In our first blog post we gently teased a number of new chess initiatives and it is now time to unveil some of the projects we have been working on over the last few weeks.

Some can wait until the next blog and we have a million great reasons to hold back some of our good news for now.

Chess in Schools and Communities have teamed up with ChessKid to offer one million free online accounts, which will be valid for three months.

ChessKid is a very safe online chess community, offering a playing zone for friendly and tournament games, plus enough chess puzzles to keep even the most enthusiastic of students busy during the current emergency.

 One million! Think about; that’s a big number by anyone’s standards. However, this time there is no sign of Chris Tarrant, Jeremy Clarkson or even Jaime Sommers (ask your Dad) - but to give so many ChessKid accounts to the nation is an unprecedented act of chess philanthropism.

The offer is open to Primary Schools and parents. You don’t even need to be currently involved with a CSC school.

 Who wants to be a chess player?



YOU do - and there has never been a better time to come on board. If you would like to get free accounts for your school, please sign up here. If you are a parent and you would like a free account for you child, please sign up here.
 

The benefits of playing chess have been well documented. It teaches essential skills such as problem solving, logical thinking and concentration. Chess has no boundaries of age, gender, ethnicity or disability, and can be played anywhere at any time. Playing the game fosters intellectual and emotional skills, crucial to a child’s wider development.

 What’s more, chess is uniquely suited to the Internet and can be played on any device. It transcends generations and, when played online, it can connect friends and family members of all ages,enabling them to stay in touch during this trying time, in an engaging way.

So come on, everybody! It is time to learn the greatest of all games. Sign up for your free account, get all of your friends and children involved and keep on challenging them as often as you can.

Allow us to demystify the ancient game of chess and you will be improving your skills before you know it.

In fact, you will be one in a million!


Turning the Tables


We know what it is like…

Home Schooling is a very noble and essential part of the day during the current emergency. The timetables created for the first week looked great and worked well. Everyone got up early and announced their intention to stick to the routine, come what may. Maths, English, Science, History all featured heavily and there was even scope for PE, albeit just once a day, under the current restrictions. If the shouting from the neighbours was an accurate portrayal of events then we can safely say RE was not forgotten either.

By the second week the strain is already starting to show. The timetable slips; nobody is up at 7.30 a.m. to start their Maths lessons any more. Everyone is distracted, concentrating on when the next plate of food will be arriving or whose turn it is with the toilet roll.

Week three arrives and the children have had enough of enforced learning. The Maths is too difficult, especially all that stuff about finding the area of a triangle, nobody in the house knows what a fronted adverbial is and as for the Y7 work on the human reproductive system…well…!

Fortunately, parents have reached that critical moment of rapidly declining interest too. The only people still getting up early are the ones who want to hide the pasta.Thoughts turn from core curriculum subjects to more serious matters, such as when will Eastenders start filming again, do takeaway establishments still deliver quickly and how long will it be before childminders can enter the house once more? Education takes a nap…and let’s face it, we wouldn’t know a concrete noun if we fell over it.

We know what it is like…we work in schools!



Help is at hand! It is time to turn the tables. Tired of trying to teach your children?

Let your children teach YOU!

Every week we deliver chess lessons to full classes in over 300 UK schools. I could tell you how many children that we reach, but who wants another Maths lesson at the moment?
Here’s the idea…let your children teach you how to play chess!

Allow the children to demonstrate to you the names and moves of the six individual pieces. They will teach you how to play our mini-games. You will end up hoping the emergency will last long enough for you to beat your little superstars at chess before normality is restored. We have a lot of new and exciting projects in the pipeline to help you succeed!

Yes, we guarantee we can offer all of the assistance you could ever need. All you have to do is stay tuned…

Sean Marsh